Herbs for Herpes and Cold Sores
These traditional remedies have impressive potential against HSV-1 and HSV-2
Andrographis (Andrographis paniculata)
Andrographis is a bitter herb that is renowned in Asia as an effective remedy for strengthening the Immune System against viruses and fighting infections. It is actually one of the most commonly prescribed herbs in Asia for a strong and healthy immune system.
Herpes is a virus that is directly connected to the body's Immune System. Once exposed to the virus, symptoms may occasionally surface and this is normally at times when the immune system is vulnerable. That is, when you are sick, tired, stressed or run down you are more likely to experience an outbreak.
Strengthening your immunity is therefore the most effective way to prevent outbreaks and is the reason why the herb Andrographis (combined with Echinacea) is indicated for the treatment and management of herpes and cold sores.
Science has found that the results of this herb are enhanced when it is combined with immune stimulators, such as Echinacea, zinc and vitamin C.
In addition to being a powerful immune enhancer, Andrographis has shown promising results against viruses, including Herpes and HIV. So much so that scientists believe Andrographis may hold the key to new and effective treatments for HIV and AIDS.
Andrographis has the ability to interfere with viral reproduction and can prevent a retrovirus from infecting healthy cells. Andrographis has also been demonstrated to fight viral cells that have already been infected and to inhibit the spread of infection.
Andrographis is showing promising potential in the management and treatment of viruses like herpes, and its immune stimulating effects have been found to be more pronounced when combined with the herb Echinacea.
Andrographis increases resistance to infection by stimulating the body's production of antibodies and macrophages (large white blood cells that kill invading microbes, including viruses).
These immune enhancing and viral targeting properties could give Andrographis the potential to be a "natural vaccine" for non-infected partners.
There will always be some risk involved in a relationship where herpes is a factor, but taking antiviral immune boosting herbs, such as Andrographis with Echinacea, may boost a person's resistance to the herpes virus and therefore help to reduce the likelihood of transmission.
Andrographis also has hepatoprotective (liver protecting) properties, so may be helpful to counteract the effects of drugs which can affect the liver,such as Valtrex and other suppressive medications.
Andrographis is considered a safe herb with very low toxicity and has been found to be safe for use in children during clinical trials. It is not recommended during pregnancy and is contraindicated if there is a known allergy to the daisy plant family.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea)
Echinacea is an immune stimulant which is recommended to be taken along with Andrographis to improve its effectiveness. This duo of herbs is highly indicated for the immune system and also specifically targets and destroys viral infected cells.
Andrographis and Echinacea complement each other with the following actions:
- Potently enhance the body's immune function
- Strengthen resistance and provide relief to mucous membranes (such as the mouth and genitals)
- Help the body to counteract the effects of stress, a common outbreak trigger
Echinacea is one of the most well known herbs in the world and is said to be used by the Native American Indians to treat more illnesses than any other plant. It is also one of the most researched herbs, with almost 400 research papers about Echinacea having appeared in scientific literature since 1940.
Echinacea has been established to have strong antiviraland anti-inflammatoryproperties. Taken consistently, some case studies have shown promising results with Echinacea reducing the frequency and intensity of herpes outbreaks. In one report, Echinacea was able to completely stop an outbreak from developing when the herb was taken repeatedly during the prodromal stage (when warning symptoms such as itching and tingling begin). 
"People like the idea of building up their immune systems to prevent infections, rather than taking over-the-counter drugs that just mask the symptoms." remarked Mark Blumenthal, director of the American Botanical Council.
Echinacea appears to prevent infection and assists the body in repairing any tissue that is damaged by infection. This is said to be attributed to the herb's ability to inhibit the activity of the enzyme 'hyaluronidase'. Through this action, Echinacea helps to repair connective tissue that has been destroyed by infection, as well as assists in eliminating the pathogenic organisms which create the infection (such as the virus or bacteria, etc).
In a 1998 clinical trial, a blend containing Echinacea purpurea with benzalkonium chloride (a common antiseptic) demonstrated that the extract produced good antiviral activity against both Acyclovir resistant and Acyclovir susceptible strains of HSV-1 and HSV-2.
Echinacea's antiviral response against the Herpes simplex virus has been said to be related to the following functions:
- A virus-inhibiting action caused by the inhibition of the enzyme hyaluronidase, which helps make the body less susceptible to viruses and strengthens connective tissue
- Powerful immunostimulatory properties, such as the increase of white blood cells which engulf viral matter
- Certain components (such as ehinacoside and polysaccharides) may block virus receptors on the cell surface
- Enhances cytotoxic killing of virus infected cells
- Promotes the release of interferon, and other important immune functions which fight off viruses
- Blocks the transcription of viral RNA
Echinacea (especially when combined with Andrographis) is a powerful antiviral immune stimulant and may be an effective herb in helping to prevent HSV-1 and HSV-2 recurrences. Due to Echinacea's response to restoring the skin after infection and reducing inflammation, it may also assist healing during active outbreaks and/or prevent an outbreak from developing.
Echinacea is considered a very safe herb, even prescribed by some midwifes and practitioners during pregnancy.
Contrary to a popular belief in the 1990s, Echinacea is generally a safe and effective herb for use in people who have auto-immune diseases, such as HIV, Lupus and Crohn’s Disease. This theory lacked scientifically relevant data to support it and as a result this assumption was officially lifted towards the end of the 1990s. Echinacea has continued to show promising and effective results in auto-immune patients.
For more information about taking Echinacea for extended periods please read an excerpt from the article Echinacea: Long term use by Kerry Bone.
Echinacea should not be taken by individuals who have had an organ transplant and are taking immunosuppressant medication.
Olive Leaf (Olea europaea)
Olive leaf is growing in popularity as an effective herb for the management of herpes and is now being recommended by many natural therapists, doctors and herpes support groups around the world.
And with good reason. This herb is showing impressive results against the whole spectrum of herpes viruses (including HSV-1, HSV-2 and Herpes zoster) in both anecdotal and clinical trials.
Olive leaf extract has been demonstrated to have antiviral properties against both HSV Type 1 and 2and has even been proven in comprehensive clinical trials to reduce herpes viral shedding and stop viral replication.
Olive leaf has also been shown to have the ability to directly penetrate viral infected cells, to neutralize the function of the herpes virus at a cell level and to interfere with the way retroviruses, such as herpes, alter RNA and DNA.
In a clinical study performed by Upjohn Pharmaceuticals, it was found that the active component of Olive leaf called Oleuropein is lethal to the Herpes simplex viruses Type 1 and 2 (using both in vitro and in vivo studies). These trials found it inactivated the herpes virus and prevented it from entering cells.
As well as being a powerful antiviral herb, Olive Leaf can also be helpful for yeast and fungal infections, boosting the immune system, protecting the heart, raising energy levels and helping to cure infections.
Just as the active compounds contained in the Olive Leaf tree fight off invading bugs and germs during its life cycle, taking a daily Olive Leaf supplement can assist the body in fighting off a wide range of pathogens including herpes viruses.
It may take between 2 to 4 weeks before a person notice the effect of Olive Leaf, but when taken consistently it is likely to help reduce the frequency and intensity of herpes outbreaks -- and may even help to offer some limited resistance to prevent herpes infection, particularly if taken by both partners and combined with other anti-viral immune stimulants.
Olive Leaf is considered by health care professionals to be a safe herb with no side-effects, with doses of up to 1 g/kg of oleuropein to mice showing no signs of toxicity. Olive Leaf is also safe to use during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
If you are currently taking a prescription medication (other than suppressive drugs for herpes) please consult with your Doctor before taking Olive Leaf. It should not be used by individuals taking insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents.
When first taking Olive Leaf some individuals may experience a cleansing effect where they will have temporary flu like symptoms as the body eliminates pathogens or a build-up of toxins in the body. Although it is only experienced occasionally and by some people, Doctors and health care practitioners have noted that this is actually a positive sign which indicates that the Olive Leaf is taking effect and beginning to work.
Olive Leaf may occasionally cause mild gastrointestinal symptoms which can be reduced or avoided by drinking water before and after each dose, and by taking it along with food.
Tips when choosing a herbal remedy for herpes
Some active ingredients can work better when combined together, while others have the potential to interfere with each other. Look for an herbal remedy that contains both Andrographis, Echinacea and Olive Leaf together in the same blend, so that they work in synergy together which will boost the effectiveness of each herb.
Ask a qualified herbalist to mix up a liquid or dried herb blend for you, or find a ready made tablet that is manufactured to high standards. Whichever way you go, make sure the ingredients are sourced from quality herbs that are grown, stored and processed correctly.
When choosing an Olive Leaf supplement make sure to find one that does NOT contain Lysine. To prevent cancelling the effects of one another out, Lysine should be taken in a separate tablet to your herbs and at least 2 hours apart.
Is the concentration standardized?
Where possible, choose a herbal extract, tablet or capsule that is "standardized" or a "guaranteed potency". This is a special manufacturing process that guarantees the concentration of the active constituents contained in the herb. You may need to enquire with the manufacturer to find out this information.
Allow time for the herbs to work and be consistent in taking them
Herbs have complex modes of action and sometimes require a little bit of persistence and time before they will take full effect. Provided the herbs agree with your body, it is sensible to take them exactly as prescribed and be consistent so that you achieve your desired results.
For example, Echinacea has been shown in clinical study to be a lot more effective after a period of 10 weeks of consistent dosing, compared to just 2 weeks.
Less is sometimes more
When choosing a herbal blend, it is often best to limit the number of herbs to between one to five so that you can get the full benefit of each of the herbs and do not complicate the mixture.
Availability of Herbs
Some of our members have contacted us for more information about where they may be able to purchase these types of herbal tinctures or extracts, as they are not generally your every day items. Obtaining quality sources of herbs is important in order for them to work correctly, so above all choose a supplier or herbalist that is credible and upholds high manufacturing standards.
One herb remedy that contains these ingredients at guaranteed potencies is Immune Support. We prefer this brand because the herbs are processed in a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility, the active constituents are standardized and the ingredients are from reliable and certifiable sources.
If you have access to a local herbalist, Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM) therapist or supplier of raw medicinal herbs they may be able to supply you with something similar, whether it be in liquid, tablet or dried herb form is fine. Just make sure the manufacturing process is of a high standard or else the potency (and therefore the results) may be compromised.
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